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DID YOU KNOW? Carfax is Your Friend AND Foe

DID YOU KNOW? Carfax is Your Friend AND Foe

Did you know that some repair facilities, including Midas and Pep Boys, share your vehicle data with Carfax?  Did you also know that Carfax sells this data to some insurance companies?  This data exchange is not a one-way street – Carfax also receives vehicle claims data from insurance companies. 

Work Shield Featured in Dallas Innovates

Work Shield Featured in Dallas Innovates

The Plexus Groupe is not only proud to offer Work Shield as an innovative workplace harassment protection plan to our clients, but we use the confidential reporting platform in our own company as well.

Work Shield founder Jared S. Pope was recently featured in Dallas Innovates as a cutting edge start-up that is making a difference in the #metoo movement.

Wildfire Victims Are Largely Under-Insured

Wildfire Victims Are Largely Under-Insured

California’s massive wildfires over the past year have highlighted that many residents were under-insured – and an insurance expert believes several factors are to blame.

The Plexus Groupe Hires Kari Fredrick as Vice President of HR

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The Plexus Groupe, an innovative, client-focused insurance brokerage and risk management consulting firm, has hired Kari Fredrick as Vice President of Human Resources.

Fredrick brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in human resources, said Matthew McKenna, Chief Financial Officer of The Plexus Groupe.

“Kari’s expertise is in developing and implementing strategic human resource initiatives that will ultimately help make our already thriving company the best workplace possible for our associates,” McKenna said.

Fredrick earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and a master’s degree from Roosevelt University in human resources management. She then attended Argosy University to earn a doctorate degree in business administration and holds the SHRM Senior Certified Professional credentials for HR.

Fredrick spent the last 14 years working in the manufacturing industry and now looks forward to showcasing her skills in the insurance industry with The Plexus Groupe.

“It is an honor to join the Plexus team,” Fredrick said. “I am excited to visit each office and become part of the culture of this great company.”

The Plexus Groupe offers innovative solutions in employee benefits, property and casualty, corporate retirement plans, personal lines insurance, human resources administration/consulting, benefits technology services, and mergers and acquisitions. Additionally, the Plexus Global Network gives clients access to insurance placement in 130 countries around the world. Plexus is headquartered in Deer Park, Ill., with additional locations in Chicago, Dallas, and Oklahoma City.

For more information on strategic insurance solutions, please contact the firm at 847-307-6100 and ask to speak to a client executive. The firm can also be reached via the Web at www.PlexusGroupe.com.

The Plexus Groupe Earns Bronze Workplace Health Achievement From The American Hearth Association

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The Plexus Groupe earned a 2018 Bronze Workplace Health Achievement award from the American Heart Association for its comprehensive wellness program.

The American Heart Association’s Workplace Health Achievement measures the comprehensiveness and quality of a company’s workplace health program, and the overall heart health of its employees.

The program takes into account seven organizational best practices: leadership, reporting outcomes, programs, policies and environment, partnerships, engagement and communications.

The Plexus Groupe offers a comprehensive wellness program that includes a walking challenges, fruit and vegetables served daily and preventive care and screenings among other initiatives.

EMPLOYEE BENEFITS NEWSLETTER: August 2018

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There are over 42,000 opioid-related deaths in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—a figure that has been rising steadily since the turn of the century. The opioid death rate is now more than five times greater than it was in 1999.

In addition to the skyrocketing opioid-related deaths, there are countless Americans who are still abusing

In addition to the skyrocketing opioid-related deaths, there are countless Americans who are still abusing prescription medications. This means employers must figure out how to best address this crisis with employees. That is where The Plexus Groupe can help.

The purpose of this toolkit is to help employers understand and deal with the opioid epidemic, create a healthier and more productive workforce, and reduce costs. This toolkit is not intended to replace the advice of a medical or legal professional. In many cases, you may need to contact a professional for assistance. However, this information can serve as a starting point for developing a meaningful opioid strategy.

What Are Opioids?

In the most basic terms, the CDC defines opioids as “a class of drugs used to reduce pain.” However, not all opioids are the same. There is a wide range of legal and illegal drugs that are classified as opioids. For example, Vicodin, a legal painkiller commonly prescribed to patients, is an opioid. By comparison, heroin, an illegally manufactured drug that has no medical use, is also an opioid. Both are killing thousands each year.

Opioids vs. Opiates

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These terms are used interchangeably by many who report on the opioid crisis. While this may be fine for a basic understanding, knowing the difference between opioids and opiates could matter to your organization’s plan administrator.

This toolkit uses the term “opioid” exclusively to include both categories of drugs.

Common Types of Opioids

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It should be clear by now that many drugs are considered opioids. Here are the names of some commonly abused opioids, with their brand names listed for recognition. These include prescription medications and illegal offshoots.

What Employers Can Do

The opioid crisis is not going away. Estimates show this epidemic costs the U.S. economy over $95 billion annually, with employers paying $18 billion of that themselves. And, these figures are only expected to rise. Employers need to do everything possible to combat the impact opioids have in the workplace.

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There is no silver bullet for this crisis. However, exploring new initiatives can help you develop your own strategy to best suit the needs of your employees. This section provides examples that may help you.

Understanding the Impact

Employers across the country are working to curb the misuse of prescription opioids. With more employees falling victim to addiction, employers are seeing lower productivity, higher health care costs and fewer qualified job applicants.

When so much of the workforce is at risk of opioid abuse, that can put a strain on benefit programs—especially health care costs. Overprescribing creates ample room for abuse, which can result in employers paying more for their drug plan than they need to be.

It can be hard to identify illegitimate use, especially with prescribed medications. Employers may need to try more unique approaches to curb opioid abuse. Addressing the problem with employees directly can be a good place to start.

Employee Education

Opioid abuse is not happening in a vacuum. Even if employees themselves are not using opioids, their lives may be affected by loved ones who are. This can indirectly affect their job performance and contribute to the overall crisis.

Employers should do their best to provide employees with educational materials to help them understand and take action against the opioid crisis. Lasting reform can only happen if individuals take charge of their situation. Educating employees is the first step.

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Consider the following suggestions when developing your own communication campaign:

Explain the Risks

Reminding people about addiction’s tragic side effects could help motivate them to abstain from or seek treatment. Directly facing the consequences of your actions can be powerful, especially when paired with other resources. Try putting up posters or sending information directly to employees that calls attention to the dangers of opioid misuse.

Encourage Employees to Speak With a Doctor

Sometimes employees do not think to speak to their doctors about opioid abuse. This could be because employees are worried about losing their prescriptions, or perhaps they do not know how their doctor could help. Regardless, a doctor is more qualified than your organization’s HR department to help with medical issues stemming from opioids.

Educate employees on the importance of speaking openly with their doctors. If they are worried about losing a prescription, explain that there are other effective ways to treat chronic pain. Most importantly, reassure employees that their doctors are there to help, not get them in trouble for misusing medication.

Promote Your EAP

Employee assistance programs (EAPs) can be extremely beneficial for your workforce. Traditionally, EAPs help with personal issues, like smoking cessation or stress management. However, they can also help with opioid usage.

Like any other EAP, a program geared specifically toward opioids can help employees deal with this debilitating addiction and put energy back into their job. Read more about EAPs in the following section.

Employee Assistance Programs

Because substance abuse and mental health issues can impact the workplace so significantly, many companies choose to offer EAPs. However, an EAP is only useful if it is tailored to your employees’ needs. In this case, employees need resources to fight their opioid addictions.

An EAP supplies professionals who provide counseling to employees and their families in a safe and private atmosphere. Generally, all the information disclosed will remain confidential, and no disclosure to employers will be made without written permission. Using an EAP will not jeopardize an employee’s job or chance for promotion, which are two repercussions many drug users fear. These factors lower barriers and can encourage more people to seek help.

The EAP makes a limited number of counseling sessions available to employees at no cost. Should an employee and his or her counselor decide that a referral to an outside provider is necessary, those costs will then be the employee’s responsibility.

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Consult your EAP vendor to determine what the payment structure looks like so you can advise employees on best usage practices.

Benefits of an EAP

An EAP not only helps employees, it helps the entire business. When employees are in good mental and physical health, the whole organization benefits.

Offering an EAP can put employees in touch with experts who can help start their treatment.

Opioid addiction should be treated like a chronic illness. Simply providing one treatment option will not help create lasting change. It takes time, energy and ongoing treatment to help reverse opioid addiction.

Speak with your EAP vendor to discuss adaptions that can better meet the needs of your workforce.

Have questions regarding opioid addiction in the workplace, this newsletter, or any other employee benefits matters? Contact a client service team representative from The Plexus Groupe in Deer Park, Illinois at 847-307-6100, Chicago at 312-606-4800, Dallas at 972-770-5010 or Oklahoma City at 405-840-3033.

We’re here to help and we’re happy to help.

Content provided by Zywave.

The Plexus Groupe Hires Todd Neaves as Vice President, Business Development

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The Plexus Groupe, an innovative, client-focused insurance brokerage and risk management consulting firm, has hired Todd Neaves as Vice President of Business Development in its Oklahoma City office. Neaves brings a wealth of knowledge and experience working in the Oklahoma area with employer’s benefit plans, said CEO and Founder of The Plexus Groupe, Walter R. Fawcett, III.

“Todd’s expertise is providing cost effective employee benefit strategies that will help our clients recruit and retain the best employees while meeting all financial objectives,” Fawcett said.

Neaves, who graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in business administration, looks forward to showcasing his skills at The Plexus Groupe.

“It is an honor to join the Plexus team.  I have admired the client-centric focus and work done by Plexus for quite some time and am truly humbled to now be a part of this exciting organization,” Neaves said. “We have a tremendous opportunity to provide a unique service model to our clients. I look forward to continuing my focus of identifying cost-effective solutions that are borne out of each client’s needs and culture.”

The Plexus Groupe offers innovative solutions in employee benefits, property and casualty, corporate retirement plans, personal lines insurance, human resources administration/consulting, benefits technology services, and mergers and acquisitions. Additionally, the Plexus Global Network gives clients access to insurance placement in 130 countries around the world. Plexus is headquartered in Deer Park, Ill., with additional locations in Chicago, Dallas, and Oklahoma City.

For more information on strategic insurance solutions, please contact the firm at 847-307-6100 and ask to speak to a client executive.

PROPERTY & CASUALTY NEWSLETTER: August 2018

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The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a European Union (EU) data protection law that applies to all individuals living in the EU and European Economic Area (EEA) but has big implications for U.S. companies doing business around the globe. The law aims to put EU residents in control of their personal data. It regulates how their data is collected, processed, stored, deleted, transferred and used. U.S. companies doing business in the EU and EEA had to comply with the regulation by May of this year or face stiff fines of up to 4 percent of annual global revenue or $20 million, whichever is higher. But many companies are struggling to reach the level of compliance required.

This law has implications for nearly every global industry like healthcare, legal, finance, insurance, and consulting. When it comes to targeting industries, finance has a bullseye on its back. Because of this, financial organizations have processes and technologies in place to detect and respond to any breaches, thanks to industry regulations like FINRA.

GDPR regulations bring a huge shift for US businesses in terms of post-breach notification requirements, potential issues with the insurability of GDPR fines, and the regulation of equal liability on data owners and data processors.

Data breaches and cyber attacks are the new normal and the risks are becoming more mainstream, massive attacks being reported daily, and all of the breaches usually include personal data.

The United States doesn’t have a federal law like the GDPR, but some states are putting similar regulations in place. New York’s is called the Department of Financial Services cybersecurity regulation (23 NYCRR part 500) and became law in March 2017. This law protects citizens and consumers by forcing businesses to have secure cyber systems in place to safeguard the confidentiality and availability of identification and financial information. If their system is breached, they need to be able to detect a breach and respond to it immediately to mitigate the breach. They also must report the event and begin a cyber audit to identify how the breach occurred.

IT departments around the globe were scurrying to meet the May 2018 GDPR deadline but many U.S. businesses remain non-compliant and have purchased cyber insurance to rely in case of a breach. Cyber insurance can help cushion the cost of a breach, including secondary costs like the expense of containing, communicating, investigating and remediating the hack. However, many insurance policies don’t cover fines from non-compliance to the GDPR principles. That why multiple layers of defense are needed. Such layers could include technical and organizational controls that protect the integrity and confidentiality of EU personal data.

To be compliant, some businesses will:

  • Discover and classify all personal data
  • Create a plan to close all identified protection control gaps
  • Devise and communicate a data privacy policy
  • Encrypt all personal EU data
  • Develop a processing policy
  • Partner with third-parties that process personal EU data on its behalf
  • Produce a process to test the effectiveness of data protection control
  • Enhance security controls: monitor, detect, respond and report all policy violations and external threats.

 

Adhering to compliance and standards-based framework can help businesses attract and retain more customers. By building trust with consumers, businesses can differentiate and grow in an ever more competitive global market.

If you have questions about this article or cyber insurance, contact a cyber insurance expert at The Plexus Groupe at 847-307-6100.

 

DID YOU KNOW? Prepare For Back To School With Insurance Policy Review

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A back to school insurance review is vital for anyone with children living at college or boarding school. Whether it's the first year away or the last, going away to school has several insurance implications that need to be addressed to ensure adequate coverage.

Housing

Students living away from home for the first time present new worries for their parents. What if they have friends at their dorm and someone gets hurt?  What if they forget to turn off an appliance and cause a fire?  What if their laptop is stolen?

Many schools require first-year students to live on campus, so renter’s insurance may not be necessary. Some insurance companies include student housing in their definition of a covered location, but it pays to check with your agent.  If the policy language is unclear or if the policy does not automatically include student housing, a liability extension endorsement can be added to the policy for a very modest increase in premium, usually less than $50 annually.  The endorsement changes the home insurance policy to provide liability coverage to include a student's dorm room at school.  With this extra coverage, if someone gets hurt in their dorm, there is now no question about coverage.

But what about all the stuff they brought with them to school? Most home insurance policies will provide coverage for property located outside the main residence, with some restrictions – usually 10% of the property limit on the home insurance policy. For example, if your home insurance policy provides you with $200,000 of personal property coverage, up to 10% of that limit ($20,000) may be automatically covered while at college or boarding school.

There are two drawbacks to using this approach to cover property located in a dorm. First, the deductible from your home insurance policy would apply to the loss. If you have a high deductible on your home insurance policy, a small personal property claim at the dorm may not clear your deductible. Secondly, Loss of Use coverage (or sometimes called Additional Living Expense) does not extend to other locations listed on the policy. Let’s say a pipe bursts in the dorm, causing damage that will take months to repair. There is no coverage for additional living expenses you might incur while your child is living elsewhere.

If you don’t want to accept these policy limitations, a separate renter’s insurance policy should be implemented. Renter’s insurance will provide liability insurance for the dorm, or off-campus address listed in the policy, as well as the personal property at that location. The amount of personal property coverage is usually subject to a minimum amount ($20,000 to $25,000 is common), but a separate policy will allow you to secure a lower deductible, keep any losses from showing up on your home insurance policy, and provide you with Loss of Use coverage.  Expect to pay around $200 per year for a basic renter’s policy.

Whether you choose to extend coverage or take out a renter’s policy, don’t forget to list this location on your personal umbrella policy.

Itemized personal property

If you’ve made a significant financial investment in a laptop for your student, it may make sense to itemize it on your home insurance policy – much like you would a new piece of jewelry. Some insurance companies don’t like to schedule laptops, but it pays to check.  Expect to pay between $20 and $25 per-thousand of coverage.

Paying this additional premium gives you extra coverage for misplacing the laptop and accidental damage, with no deductible applied to the claim.

Cyber Liability

Free wi-fi might be a great way to attract students to a coffee shop or a study room, but it is also a great way to become a victim of identity theft. Your son or daughter might have your credit card information or other personal data on their cell phone, exposing you to financial loss.  Many home insurance policies offer optional cyber liability coverage by endorsement.  The amounts of coverage can vary widely, and there may even be customizable limits within the endorsement, so a conversation with your agent is essential.

Vehicles

If your son or daughter does not bring a car with them to school, you may be able to get a discount on your auto insurance. Most companies will provide an “away at school” discount if the school is at least 100 miles from home.

If they bring a car with them to school, coverage will need to be amended to show a different “garaging location." Depending on the state and the insurance company, a separate auto policy may need to be written if the car is garaged in a different state.

It is also important to remind your son or daughter that the insurance follows the vehicle. If they let their roommate, a friend, or a friend of a friend borrow their car, the insurance on the car pays for the claim. By extension, this means your personal umbrella would also cover the claim if the claim was severe.  Strongly discourage your child from letting anyone use their car while it is with them at school.

And DO NOT let them sign up as a driver for Uber or Lyft while they are at school. They might think it’s a good way to make a few extra dollars, but there are absolute coverage exclusions on auto insurance policies when vehicles are used as a taxi or livery service. Uber and Lyft provide their own insurance, but there may be coverage gaps as to when their coverage applies and when it does not and how it coordinates with your own policy. The risk far outweighs the financial reward.

Have questions about a back to school insurance review? David Miller has answers. Miller, who writes the monthly, DID YOU KNOW? blog is The Plexus Groupe's Vice President, Client Executive for Private Client Solutions. Miller can be reached by calling 846-307-6141.